Category Archives: Things to Do in Las Vegas

New Strip Location of Pinball Hall of Fame in Jeopardy Due to Pandemic

A beloved attraction in Las Vegas, the Pinball Hall of Fame, has hit a financial snag in its plans for a new Strip location due to the pandemic.

Pinball Hall of Fame is asking for financial assistance, via a GoFundMe page, so construction of its new building can be completed.

Pinball Hall of Fame Vegas

We can’t let these pinball machines become homeless.

The new Pinball Hall of Fame will be located at 4915 S. Las Vegas Boulevard, not far from the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign.

The project to construct a new home for the Pinball Hall of Fame was underway prior to COVID-19. Financial projections were turned upside down due to a dramatic decrease in Las Vegas
visitors.

Fewer visitors has meant fewer quarters in the pinball machines, resulting in a $500,000 loss of revenue.

While the new Las Vegas Pinball Hall of Fame building is 96% complete, there’s a chance the revenue shortfall could result in the attraction being without a home.

According to Tim Arnold, there’s a very real possibility the Hall of Fame will be given the boot from its current Tropicana location on May 6, 2021. If construction of the new building
isn’t completed, it will leave the Pinball Hall of Fame in limbo with an uncertain future. Which may be the definition of “limbo.” Please stop scrutinizing every word we write, it’s a lot of pressure.

“We can’t cut staff costs, as we are all volunteers,” says Arnold. “We have sold off dozens of donated machines and have limited new machine purchases to a minimum, just enough to keep our local customers coming back.”

Tim Arnold Pinball Hall of Fame

Tim Arnold is trying to bring us magic. The pandemic isn’t helping.

Fans of the Pinball Hall of Fame have risen to the occasion, donating $82,000 of the $200,000 needed to complete the project, but the 27,000-square-foot attraction isn’t out of the woods
yet.

Throughout the financial struggles, Tim Arnold has managed to keep his sense of humor.

In a video to pinball fans and supporters, he says, “Tell your friends, link and share and whatever you kids do with those computer things you have.”

Here’s a look at the lovable pinball nerd leading the charge for the new Pinball Hall of Fame.

The Pinball Hall of Fame originally opened in 2009. The attraction currently has about 250 vintage pinball machines, not just for display but also for play. The new location will have more than 700 pinball machines and arcade games.

Many of the games slated for the new location have been in storage for 30 years.

Riviera pinball machines

Fun fact: The Pinball Hall of Fame once had an “annex” at the Riviera.

As Arnold mentioned, the Pinball Hall of Fame is staffed entirely by volunteers, and as a non-profit organization, the museum often donates proceeds to charity, including the Salvation Army.

Here’s how the new Pinball Hall of Fame looked the last time we stopped by.

We talked with Tim Arnold on our podcast.

We caught up with Arnold again recently to learn more about the attraction’s financial challenges.

Let’s see if we can help flip this situation and help save the Las Vegas Pinball Hall of Fame. We donated $50 and it takes a lot for us to part with funds that might otherwise have gone into a Wheel of Fortune machine.

Take a listen to our chat with Tim Arnold about the precarious predicament the Pinball Hall of Fame finds itself in.

Neon Museum Hosts Free Virtual Guide to Historic Signs

The endlessly awesome Neon Museum is hosting a virtual presentation highlighting the history of a number of Las Vegas neon signs.

The free Zoom event, “Beyond the Boneyard: Restored Roadside Relics,” takes place Feb. 4, 2021 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Participants can register online.

Neon Museum relics

It’s the Neon Boneyard, not “graveyard.” They’re at little touchy about that.

Space for the virtual event is limited. Zoom allows 100 participants, but we’re hoping Neon Museum is springing for the 1,000-participant Large Meeting add-on.

Because neon.

Binion's Horseshoe sign

Binion’s Horseshoe lost its horseshoe when the casino was purchased by Harrah’s Entertainment (now Caesars Entertainment) in 2004. There will be a quiz.

The Neon Museum online event will feature nine restored signs frequent Vegas visitors will immediately recognize.

Here are the nine restored neon signs to be discussed:

googie Binion’s Horseshoe
googie Silver Slipper
googie Bow & Arrow Motel
googie Society Cleaners
googie Normandie Motel
googie Lucky Cuss Motel
googie Hacienda Horse and Rider
googie 5th Street Liquor
googie Landmark Hotel

The Neon Museum put together a map in case you’re feeling adventurous and want to check out these signs on your own.

Neon Museum

Just a heads up: Best not to try and walk this tour. Don’t make it awkward.

During the online presentation, experts will share insights into the history of the signs, as well as what’s involved in restoring and preserving neon signs.

The museum also says, “Archival images, postcards and other primary sources will fuel your curiosity for the significant signs from bygone businesses.”

We don’t know what all that means, but here’s our take: These signs kick ass and we’re craving more scoop like a conventioneer craves lap dances.

Society cleaners neon sign

Not all the signs are from casinos. Nobody’s perfect.

All the signs in the presentation have been restored and put on display in public spaces by the Neon Museum. Many of the signs can be seen in downtown Las Vegas, not far from the Neon Museum itself.

The Neon Museum has faced many of the same challenges other venues are during the pandemic, although it has the benefit of being an outdoor attraction.

Even if you can’t make the Feb. 4 Zoom presentation, the Neon Musem offers a virtual tour for $10. It’s not as cool as seeing the signs up close, but it’ll do for now.

The Neon Museum is a national treasure, and we hope to see the place packed with guests again soon.

CSI: The Experience Closes at MGM Grand

It seems CSI: The Experience is D.O.A. at MGM Grand.

While there’s been no official confirmation, our three-minute forensic security breach leads us to believe the attraction has closed permanently.

CSI closed MGM Grand

Even Gil Grissom’s keen eye would be hard-pressed to find traces of the CSI attraction at MGM Grand.

The CSI attraction has been unceremoniously yanked from the MGM Resorts Web site, but then again, who hasn’t been unceremoniously yanked in Las Vegas?

CSI: The Experience was inspired by the TV series “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.”

In the interactive attraction, guests explored one of three staged crime scenes to test their investigator skills.

Sounds like some creepy good fun, although we never got to visit.

The closed CSI attraction space is currently being used by MGM Grand to store liquor. Which, for the record, we’re not entirely against.

Here’s a peek inside, because that’s how we roll.

CSI Las Vegas closed

Apparently, “CSI” can also stand for “Cases of Sweet Imbibements.”

A year ago, the attraction moved from The District at MGM Grand to a spot near Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club in The Underground, a retail promenade between the casino and the hotel’s parking garage. (Reason: It’s always rent.)

The whole stretch at The Underground is pretty much (wait for it) a dead zone now due to the pandemic, including challenges like travel restrictions and the lack of conventions.

MGM Underground map

You know is curtains when they take you off the map.

We reached out to the operator of CSI: The Experience, EMS Entertainment, for comment, but haven’t heard back yet.

An MGM Grand registration desk employee said they’re unsure if the closure of CSI: The Experience is permanent, but all the clues lead us to conclude the attraction has suffered an untimely demise.

Update (1/22/21): A former employee of CSI: The Experience shares confirmation, “It’s closed permanently. There was literally no way to maneuver through the pandemic without bankrupting the business. We were actually doing pretty well but the financials weren’t there to have a year of downtime after having to pay back the move from the old location. The closure has been permanent since July.”

Fremont Street Experience Moves Forward With New Year’s Eve Festivities

Fremont Street Experience in downtown Las Vegas will hold its annual New Year’s Eve party, albeit without live entertainment.

The cost of entry to the event, $25, is being referred to as a “security fee.”

It was widely reported Fremont Street Experience wouldn’t have its New Year’s Eve event, but that was related to the denial of a specific permit request.

Apparently, a new permit was requested and granted.

It’s unclear what, if any, conditions were attached to the permit approval, but it seems Fremont Street Experience is keeping promotion of the event to a bare minimum to avoid potential blowback related to public safety concerns.

Fremont Street Experience New Year's Eve

Will Fremont Street Experience have a New Year’s Eve party this year? Yes. Will it be weird without live music? Definitely.

The NYE page on the Fremont Street Experience Web site is atypically understated, merely providing an opportunity to purchase tickets along with a FAQ covering the basics of the event.

Typically, one of the biggest draws of New Year’s Eve at Fremont Street Experience is live entertainment, but the venue’s FAQ states, “Due to COVID restrictions mandated by the state, there will not be live entertainment or bands on Fremont Street Experience this year.”

No live entertainment includes no DJs.

That means the evening’s festivities will feature ambient music, and the only entertainment, aside from people-watching, will be on the venue’s Viva Vision video screen.

Last year, the screen got a $32 million renovation. It was unveiled a year ago on New Year’s Eve 2020.

Fremont Street NYE 2021

Ah, New Year’s Eve 2020, when communicable diseases were almost adorable.

Presumably, the term “security fee” makes reference to the fact there will be controlled access to Fremont Street on New Year’s Eve, and as always, a heightened level of security will be provided to party-goers.

It’s unclear if the event will be subject to any capacity limits, but NYE typically draws tens of thousands of guests to Fremont Street Experience, a five block entertainment district in downtown Las Vegas.

The “Safety and Security Restrictions” section of the venue’s FAQ states, “Fremont Street Experience’s security measures will include bag checks, I.D. scans and screening through metal detectors and COVID assessment.”

The Fremont Street Experience Web site continues, “Yes, everyone will need to wear a mask at all times and practice six feet of social distancing. If you are not feeling well or have any symptoms of COVID, please stay home. Upon entrance you will be required to answer a few COVID screening questions.”

Thank goodness nobody drinks excessively on Fremont Street or that “six feet of social distancing” thing would come across as a tad whimsical.

A number of other health and safety precautions are listed on the Web site as well. Take a look.

The NYE event at Fremont Street Experience will be limited to those 21 and older.

While the Las Vegas Strip canceled its fireworks, Plaza hotel, adjacent to Fremont Street Experience, still plans to have a fireworks display.

Given how strange 2020 has been, it’s probably no surprise New Year’s Eve 2021 in Las Vegas will be awkward, too.

Happy Awkward New Year

Let’s raise our socially-distanced glasses to toast the end of a year replete with WTF.

Venues know people will be up for a party, but they have to balance risk versus reward, as do we all. As we always have.

It’s likely Fremont Street Experience will draw a significant number of revelers, but it’s an outdoor venue and medical officials seem to agree most of the COVID-19 cases being reported are happening in households, with extended interactions, not passing encounters in public venues.

Hosting New Year’s Eve festivities this year is a balancing act. People seem ready to celebrate the passing of 2020, but many remain wary about large gatherings.

We’re curious to see how “Awkward New Year’s Eve 2021” unfolds.

Red Rock Casino Erects Huge-Ass Gingerbread Replica of Itself

We tend to lean toward Scrooge on the holiday spectrum, but when Red Rock Resort announced it had built a giant gingerbread replica of itself, we got a serious dose of the Christmas spirit.

It’s big. It’s awesome. It’s edible. Just like us.

Red Rock gingerbread

Please don’t lick the frosting. In Vegas, that costs extra.

Red Rock’s gingerbread homage to itself is about five feet tall and free to see on the resort’s casino floor. You can find it near the Grand Cafe and T-Bones restaurant.

This sugary monument to master bakers with too much time on their hands took a whopping 500 hours to construct.

Red Rock gingerbread

If you’re only reading these photo captions, you missed a perfectly good “master baker” joke. Shame on you.

We asked for some details about the faux Red Rock, which the company’s crack PR team promptly ignored. A smidge Grinch-like, but par for the course.

Come to find out, the edible Red Rock model features: 160 pounds of chocolate, 50 pounds of sugar, 40 pounds of rock candy, two pounds of edible copper paint, 60 pounds of fondant, 30 pounds of butter cream frosting, 40 pounds of Rice Krispie treats, 80 pounds of modeling chocolate, five pounds of cocoa nibs and five pounds of praline nibs.

Edible casino

If we ever have a band, we’re going to call it Five Pounds of Praline Nibs.

The Red Rock replica has lots of fun little details, including a miniature marquee, baby Christmas trees and an ingestible pool.

Red Rock pool cookie

They apparently didn’t have time to make any gingerbread hotties. Next year!

Props to Red Rock’s culinary team for their impressive confection and engineering skills.

Sadly, we assume that when the gingerbread casino is dismantled after the holidays, it will not be edible. You know how your clothing smells after a few hours in a casino? Ditto gingerbread.

It’s worth noting every time 40 pounds of Rice Krispie treats goes uneaten, an angel loses its wings.

Red Rock Christmas

Baby Jesus gets the best birthday cakes!

Despite the best efforts of the PR department, Red Rock Resort remains one of our favorite locals places to play and drink, and mostly that second thing.

Red Rock Resort is about 15 minutes west of the Las Vegas Strip, and while we wouldn’t necessarily recommend a special trip just to see the gingerbread Red Rock look-alike, make sure to check it out if you’re in the neighborhood.

Downtown Las Vegas Gateway Arch is Officially Lit

Like just about everything else in Vegas, downtown’s new archway is lit.

And possibly fleek.

The arch went live a couple of weeks ago, officially, but some glitches with the lights lingered.

YESCO, the sign company in charge of installing and maintaining this striking erection, has resolved those issues, so the arch is fully operational.

downtown archway Las Vegas

We should probably avoid using the words “striking” and “erection” in the same sentence.

The archway made its debut with little fanfare, no doubt because it was expensive ($6.5 million) and people can’t seem to shut their yappers with misguided concerns it’s not a great time to spend that kind of money on bling when so many in Las Vegas are experiencing financial challenges due to the pandemic.

Oy, with the whining and naysaying.

arch googie stars

The best parts of any Las Vegas sign with Googie stars are the Googie stars.

The archway is marketing. Marketing increases business. Increased business generates jobs and prosperity. Prosperity is a good thing.

Conclusion: The arch deserves more fanfare.

Setting aside the vocal minority that tries to ruin everything, the welcome arch is a beauty and has turned out to have a lot more eye candy than originally anticipated.

The renderings just didn’t do it justice. Which is why Al Gore invented the Internet and why porn invented video for the Internet.

Here’s a look at the new welcome arch in downtown Las Vegas.

While there was no ribbon-cutting or official gathering to launch the arch, it’s already drawing visitors, many of whom do not appear to understand that standing in the middle of a major thoroughfare for a photo isn’t going to get them an invitation to join MENSA anytime soon.

The archway sits at the foot of The Strat casino. Cars actually drive through the legs of the arch to enter Strat’s port cochere.

The Strat needs to send a thank-you note to the City of Las Vegas every day, as the eye-catching new addition is going to draw many more gazes toward its front door.

Downtown gateway arch

Construction equipment for scale. The archway is about 80 feet tall.

Fun facts: The arch is illuminated by 13,016 individually programmable LEDs and draws 61,000 watts of power. A hair dryer on high heat uses about 1,500.

At a time when there’s been a lot of gloom in Las Vegas, the downtown welcome archway is a refreshing blast of radiance that couldn’t have come at a better time.

Las Vegas has always been about glitz, and the arch perfectly straddles the line between the glamorous and garish.

The downtown gateway arch is just what Las Vegas needs as it strives to recapture its sparkle.